October 12, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3602
Water Temp: 68-70 F

There has been a major change in fish behavior and location during the past week.  We have relocated the “lost fish” that are no longer boiling.  To recap there was a rapidly moving school of large stripers running the main channel in a steady uplake movement from Padre to Rock Creek to Rainbow and beyond.  They turned right at the mouth of the San Juan and continued wreaking havoc with any main channel shad found in their path.  The boils were violent and prolonged much to the delight of those that found them. Surviving shad scattered and took refuge in shallow weeds in side canyons and coves.

But what happened to the resident game fish not running with the migrating school?  That was perplexing so during the shad rally I took Jerry Nelson with me to find the answers. He must have thought I was just out for a boat ride because we stopped here and there, jigged a bit, trolled a time or two and caught absolutely nothing.  I stopped and talked with friends and anglers all along the way.  At 10 AM we were still fishless. Then it happened. 

I saw some small bass splashing on a shoreline midway back in the canyon.  The bottom substrate was sand with tall aquatic weeds in a shallow cove. These were, in fact, largemouth bass and some smallmouth bass that responded to topwater lures.  Species didn’t matter.  I found my pattern for the day.

We targeted the tallest and thickest weeds (Spiny Naiad) we could find in shallow water. Drifting in the middle of a cove, we saw 3 small stripers running under the boat. I turned and cast a Jumpin' Minnow in their direction of travel and got a hit. The result was a fat 6-pounder.  The cove was narrow and shallow so I just parked the boat and walked the shoreline so we wouldn’t spook the fish.  Jerry then understood why we covered 40 miles just looking for the right spot.  In the next 2 hours we caught 18 stripers from 2-7 pounds all on tremendous surface-shattering explosions as they devoured our Jumpin minnows. There was no boil or sign of fish until they hit our lures. Stripers are no longer visible but very catchable.

Here is the pattern:  Sandy coves lined with aquatic weeds maybe with tumbleweed piles scattered around. Drive to the backs of the canyon and visibly search the shallows for tall aquatic weeds. Look in water less than 10 feet deep so weeds are visible. Seeing a striper makes catching a sure thing. Usually, the only way to know if fish are there is to cast a surface lure.  For bass, cast toward shore and reel back to the center of the cove.  For stripers, cast from the shore to the center of the cove.  Stripers hold in mid cove while bass are on shore.    

Location:  Start looking in Padre Bay, Friendship Cove, Rock Creek, and all canyons uplake to the Rincon including the San Juan.  I suspect that this pattern will work uplake from Bullfrog to Good Hope but I was not able to confirm that.  The center of activity is Friendship Cove to Oak Canyon.

Stripers are beginning to hit trolled lures from Good Hope Bay to the muddy water upstream from White Canyon.